The past 2 years have been tough on most people across the globe, but these experiences have taught us new ways of thinking, resilience and shown the real people we can count on (generally family and close friends).
Let us use these life lessons to improve ourselves and the lives of those around us!
What’s Your New Year Resolution?
I am not a big believer in New Year Resolutions – so easy to give up once the euphoria of Jan and Feb fade away and the daily grind kicks in! Instead, I like 3-week or 30-day challenges using the principles of “habit stacking”. If you succeed, you can use the momentum to improve in other areas. If you fail, you can postmortem the reasons to tweak your process in the next sprint. You may simply realize the goal was too ambitious/ impractical or the item was not as important to you as you imagined!
I also like to follow the concept of a “mantra” word for the year – to keep me motivated on my highest priorities. Great for keeping the focus on my primary goals and also to sweep things away into a ‘Do NOT Do’ pile, so that items from other people’s agendas do not sidetrack my own!
My mantra for 2022 is ‘CEO’ – how to think like one, how to build the skills and experience that will allow me to gun for such a position in the next 5-10 years. My monthly challenges will also follow patterns that help me gain traction on this goal.
Welcome to Day 07 of the #BookReviewBlogChallenge. It is amazing how fast time flew and we are almost at the end of the competition! So, the theme “Time” for today’s challenge ties in quite nicely! ?
Last week’s prompt was any book with 400+ pages and Unidragonfrag won it hands down with her entry of “Worm” – an ebook serial spanning ~7000 pages! Whew! That is longer than the Harry Potter series combined!
My entry for today’s theme is “365 Days of F(i)B-Bing” by Nirupama PRV. It is the story of a young techie, Avantika, who dreams of being perceived as cool and successful. To achieve this, she decides to post every day on Facebook, hoping to boost her popularity and create an illusion of fame and acclaim. What happens next is a series of hilarious and interesting twists.
As the fine line between real and virtual blur, her past fabrications close in on Avantika. Can she keep up or lose it all? Do her Facebook frolics triumph or backfire? That is the crux of the story.
Title – 365 Days of Fibbing.
Author – Nirupama PRV
REVIEW SCORE = 5/5 *****
Time = Days! That is the connection I am using to tie between the theme and this book. Often individual days are slow and boring, but time (years and even a lifetime) often just speeds past!
Some of the individual entries in the book, written as a sort of hybrid diary, may not feel catchy, but the overall book is brilliant! By the time you finish this book, you will be motivated to start writing everyday or posting selfies on Instagram just to test out the theory! ?
What I Loved about the Book:
First, the author is a phenomenal storyteller! I could see parts of me in Avantika. The way she reacts is exactly how any 22-year-old would! Isn’t that the goal of every fictional book – to make the reader immerse so deep in the book, they forget it is a mythical world?
Even if you have never worked for the software industry, you will still relate to many scenes in the book, like the interactions between Avantika and her friends, the confusions and aspirations every one has from their first job. If you come from a large family and especially if you are of Asian or Mediterranean origin, the scenes between Avantika and her cousins/family/wedding scenes will feel 100% real.
Also, love the cover!
If you like witty writing or standup comedy, you will love this book. The book is funny without being a comedy or satire. An excellent read if you just want something to perk yourself up. In many ways, this book reminded me bestselling author Nick Spalding, who wrote hits like “Logging off” and “Dumped Actually”. Or a classier, more confident version of “Bridget Jones Diary”!
One special note, this book is not necessarily from the YA (young adults) genre but can be read by teens as well, since the book does not have any censored topics or steamy scenes. It will probably make an excellent Graduation Day gift. Lord knows, with the chaos of the Covid19 pandemic, the class of 2020 could use something to lift their spirits and take their mind off all the mental stress!
Books – “Dumped Actually” by Nick Spalding, “Bridget Jones Diary” by Helen Fielding, “Just a Name” by Becky Monson, “Stylist Takes Manhattan” by Rosie Nixon.
Movies – Confessions of a Shopaholic,
TV Series – Never Have I ever.
Genres – Women’s Humorous Fiction, Urban, Contemporary Women’s Fiction, Coming of Age Fiction, Women & Relationships Humor, Literary Satire, YA Books
Welcome to Day 06 of #BookReviewBlogChallenge. Today’s challenge is to review any book with 400+ pages.
Shoutout to Miss Camilla and her blog . All the entries were brilliant. But Camilla’s style of “rebelling” was both unexpected and unique. The bonus of getting to read 4 reviews for the price for one? Awesome! Hat tip, Rebel Camilla!
For today’s challenge I went with another masterpiece by Tim Ferris – “Tribe of Mentors”. At 627 pages, the book is fatter than most dictionaries! This book is basically a compilation of success tactics used by the world’s most brilliant performers. This is literally “Mentor in a Book”.
Title – Rebel Talent: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World
Author – Tim Ferris
REVIEW SCORE = 4/5
The book asks a set of 11 poignant questions to experts in different domains, styled after his podcast interviews. The answers are mind-blowing and immensely practical. Each chapter in the book contains answers and thoughts from one influencer who is considered the leader in his/her field. Industries and names include authors (Neil Gaiman), graphic designers, chefs, actresses (Aisha Tyler), athletes, swim coaches (Terry Laughlin), filmmakers (Darren Aronfsky), CEOs and many more.
Word of warning – If you have already read “Tools of the Titans” (which I reviewed earlier) by the same author, like me, then some parts might seem repetitive. For example, tech genius and venture capitalist Naval Ravikant features in both books. However, his advice is incredibly spot-on, so I did not mind reading it all over again! Consider it “reinforcement learning”.
For those who have not heard of Naval – he is the founder of AngelList, a recruiting platform for startups. He also invested in 100+ companies including Uber, Twitter, Clearview AI and multiple others, making him a billionaire considered to have the “Midas touch”.
The Qs Tim asks are designed to extract pearls of wisdom that these luminaries use – imagine how amazing your life can be, if you followed 3 or 4 religiously! Some example Qs from the book:
What do you do when you feel unfocused or overwhelmed?
What is the book you have given the most as a gift and why? Books that influenced your life. Special note to readers – this single point alone proves an important fact – all successful RICH people read books! ? If that does not motivate you to read more, I wash my hands off you!
Your best investment of $100 or less.
Quotes from the book:
Some of the advice from the book that resonated the most with me are listed below:
Wealth is having assets that earn while you sleep.
It is easier to ask forgiveness than to ask Permission.
Play iterated games. All returns in life, whether in wealth, relationships or knowledge come from compound interest.
Books – “Tools of the Titans” also by Tim Ferris. “Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success” by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness. “Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World” by David Epstein. “Think Like a Rocket Scientist: Simple Strategies You Can Use to Make Giant Leaps in Work and Life” by Ozan Varol.
Movies – Rocky, Theory of Everything, Slumdog Millionaire, The Intern, Joy (starring Jennifer Lawrence).
Genres – Self-Help, Productivity, Popular Development Psychology
Welcome to Day 05 of #BookReviewBlogChallenge. Today’s prompt is “Rebel”.
Shoutout to Niru from “Opinions of a Catty, BookLoving Couch Potato” for her witty review of “The Duke and I”. The book was a perfect fit for the theme, the review notes were heartfelt and Julia Quinn book covers themselves are so quirky and attractive!
For today’s challenge I went with a relatively safe choice – “Rebel Talent” by Harvard Business school Professor, Francesca Gino. This book explains why creative rebellion is essential to find joy at work and in life, using diverse examples like a Michelin star chef, the Head of animation studio Pixar and many more!
Title – Rebel Talent
Author – Francesca Gino
REVIEW SCORE = 4/5
The book uses the term “Rebel” to mean outlier and someone who shatters conventions, not necessarily mean or evil or aggressive. The author argues that rebel employees are critical to companies and help to raise the bar on innovation, thus contributing to profits and branding and shareholder value.
We all can agree that mindlessly following rules and policies and repeating mundane tasks does suck the satisfaction out of work and life! However, not many of us can gather courage to break the norm, or risk failure. The special few who do are the ones who reach spectacular success!
Note that the author is not suggesting that every employee start breaking rules. Rather the book shows how to balance social conventions and be rebellious for useful purposes. The book also has tips for managers to reign in rebellious employees just enough to maintain a healthy equilibrium between hellion and star performer.
The book reminds me of a quote from Iris Apfel’s book “Fit in before you Step Out”.
The “Pygmalion effect” in the book and the anecdotes in the book were quite interesting. What I would have liked to see more steps to cultivate this mindset, especially for employees who have been conforming for too long. This was a bit lacking in the book.
Books – “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell, “What You Do is Who You Are” by Ben Horowitz. “Innovation and Entrepreneurship” by Peter Drucker. “It Doesn’t Have to be Crazy at Work” by Jason Fried and David Hansson. “The Remix: How to Lead and Succeed in a Multigenerational Workplace” by Lindsey Pollak.
Welcome to Day 04 of #BookReviewBlogChallenge. Today’s prompt is “Family”. Any book that reminds you of strong family ties will suffice for today’s challenge.
Let me start with a hat tip to Isabella of “Welcome to She Reads” for choosing the book “The Great Gatsby” for the previous prompt on Golden Classics. All the entries were amazing, which just shows how many authors write evergreen content that lasts for centuries! However, this particular book was by far the oldest one, published way back in 1925! Would like to add that Gatsby has been made into a movie multiple times, the last one in 2013 starring Leonardo di Caprio. The 2013 movie grossed over $353 million worldwide and won two Academy awards, besides being nominated for eight categories.
Coming back to today’s prompt – This was a tough choice as there are so many titles and authors to choose from. Finally decided to go with this old Barbara Cartland book I read as a young girl.
Title – The Husband Hunters
Author – (Dame) Barbara Cartland
The story revolves around 3 sisters who come to London to find a husband and their interaction with each other. Plus, this was a book that we brought home from the local library and my entire family took turns reading it. This includes me, my twin sister, my mom and my grandmother! Yes, we are a family of bibliophiles! Addiction to good books runs in my blood! ?
Anyway, this book reminds me of the fun times of my happy childhood, so it felt perfect to use it for today’s prompt.
REVIEW SCORE = 4.5/5 *****
Why I love this book
I love Barbara Cartland (BC) books for many reasons. First, have you seen the covers? This was an age before Photoshop and image editors, so the quality of the hand painted illustrations always dazzles me. All BC romances have such brilliant covers.
Second, have you read the biography on the author? She was awarded a knighthood (Dame of England) for her prolific writing skills, she was a writer for the Society (read gossip) column for the biggest newspaper and she was known to throw the most amazing balls and parties. Her sense of style also made her cult icon of her times! I always assumed she used her personal experiences to portray the minute details in the dresses and balls she wrote in her books.
Did you know Dame Cartland is a relation to Princess Diana? Look it up!
Third, the story is always a Victorian historical romance, so it is filled with ballrooms, haute couture, political intrigue (sometimes) and vivid characters. Some readers might find the female characters too weak or submissive, typically not the lead heroine though. However, this was an era where women were treated like chattel, so the logic is contemporary by those standards.
Unlike many historical romances, BC books are “clean” romances. With hindsight, I assume that is why my grandma allowed 10-year old girls to read these books in the first place! ? As an adult, I find it remarkable that the author wrote hundreds of books without having to resort to steamy scenes to keep readers engaged!
This book stands out because the sisters arrive at London with an extremely specific image of their potential husbands but who they ultimately choose is not what they expected. The final twist to show the true character of the stern, almost Draconian Duke, their sponsor, is revealed cleverly at the end.
If anyone wants to read a clean romance, or just a lighthearted reading for pure entertainment and good writing, then pick this one or any of the other titles by this author. You will not regret it at all!
Books – Any other historical romance by this author (Barbara Cartland). Julia Quinn and Emma Leech are similar.
Movies – Pride and Prejudice. Many of BC books have been turned into movies. Notable among them are “Hazard of Hearts” and “A Ghost in Monte Carlo”.